here in japan it's 7:00 p.m. on a wednesday night i'm james tengan in tokyo. welcome to "newsline." negotiations are back at the negotiating table. they were able to reach a deal on the future of tehran's nuclear program by a tuesday deadline. but they agreed to keep talking and resume their discussions on wednesday morning. the delegates include iran's foreign minister mohammed zarif and his counterparts from the five permanent members of the
u.n. security council plus germany. they're trying to come to an agreement on how long restrictions on iran's nuclear program will remain in effect. they're also discussing the process for lifting sanctions against iran. iranian leaders want the sanctions to end as quickly as possible. british foreign secretary philip hammond says delegates still need to tackle key issues. u.s. and other leaders are trying to prevent iran from developing nuclear weapons. all sides have been aiming to reach a final agreement by the end of june. now gene otani from our business desk is here to tell us about what japan's business sentiment is like at the moment. gene? >> james, thank you very much. cheaper oil prices have failed to lift the spirits of managers and japan's major manufacturers. the closely watched tankan survey on business sentiment was flat for that sector for the quarter ending in february. people at the bank of japan asked managers at thousands of companies how they're feeling about the economy every three
months. they publish their results in an index that shows the percentage of respondents who say business conditions are good against those who feel conditions are poor. the data suggests sentiment at major manufacturers was unchanged from the previous survey released in december at plus 12. meanwhile the mood among managers at major nonmanufacturers improved for a second straight quarter. the index was plus 19 up two points from before. manufacturers sentiment worsened by three points to plus one at small and mid size companies. that of nonmanufacturers improved two points to plus three. textile and chemical businesses saw improvements due to the low oil prices. but sentiment remained flat among managers at electronics and automotive companies, despite the weaker yen. among nonmanufacturers retailers were upbeat on the back of higher spending by foreign tourists. japan's domestic economy is showing some positive signs. corporate output and exports are
on the mend. low crude oil prices are also keeping shipment costs down. but, some businesses are worried whether the recovery will remain on track. private spending is still sluggish. small and midsize firms are concerned about a labor shortage, as well as higher prices of imported raw materials due to the weaker yen. a deadline to join the china-led development bank as a founding member has come and gone. 48 nations and one region have pledged to join. leaders in beijing are vowing the financial institution be accountable and create new opportunities. more from nhk world. >> reporter: china plans to establish the asian infrastructure investment bank to fund projects in developing asian countries. chinese officials say countries that met tuesday's deadline will be founding members. that allows them to create the bank's baseline policies.
china's media says interest in the bank is much greater than expected. analysts quoted in local newspapers say china is for the first time the leader of a multinational financial institution. beijing aims to expand its influence through the bank. the government is unhappy with the u.s.-led global monetary order. the u.s. and japan have not applied. they say the bank's governance lacks transparency. chinese president xi jinping tried to ease such concerns at the conference on the southern chinese island of hunan last saturday. he called on more countries to join the bank. >> translator: the bank will lie within the framework of the existing international financial system. it will not compete with or destroy or replace the system
rather the bank will complement it. >> reporter: china also aims to boost its economic growth through the bank. the government is struggling to implement stimulation measures as the economy slows. china hopes the bank will increase opportunities for its companies to export services by advancing infrastructure projects in asia. the chinese government also plans to build a new economic silk road connecting asia and europe by land and sea. the bank would fund transportation, energy and communications infrastructure. a chinese expert says asia's current financial framework cannot handle its growing needs. >> translator: the global economy needs better growth fields. and that's why the road will help stimulate economic growth across the whole eurasian
continent. and china will benefit. but all the other countries, more than 65 countries around -- along this one belt one road. >> reporter: a final list of founding members will be decided in about two week's time. beijing is calling on nations that have been dragging their feet to join to the new bank. naoki mack atta, nhk world, beijing. japanese government officials plan to hold off on joining the aiib for now. i spoke earlier with nhk world's senior commentator to find out why. akihiro spent two years in beijing covering china's economy. he cites concerns about governance as the reason for japan's hesitation. >> chinese officials say the aiib will be based in beijing, and is expected to have $100 billion in capital. they say china can provide up to
half the funding. it's clear the country will have a big say in how the bank is run. japanese officials mainly from the finance ministry want the aiib to have a board of directors in order to increase transparency. they believe a board would be useful to impartially coordinate member nations' interests regarding law and investment programs. so japan has been asking china whether the development bank will form such a board. but tokyo is still waiting for an answer. >> so what approach do you think japan will take? >> some officials are reluctant to promote aiib membership due to the concerns i just mentioned. but proponents say japan's participation is essential to boost its infrastructure exports, and ensure the transparency of the bank's
operation. some business leaders say they'd like to see another scheme like the aiib to beef up infrastructure in asia. >> translator: if solid infrastructure is built, more cross-border movement of people goods and capital will occur. then our business will be able to reach out to many people in several countries for the sake of their future. >> china says even after the deadline to be one of the aiib's founding members, other countries can join as non-founding participants after the deadline. the japanese side believes if it decides to join the bank it will be able to do so by the aiib's establishment later this year. on tuesday, prime minister shinzo abe met with senior
officials of his liberal democratic party in tokyo. he asked them to decide on the stance japan should take towards the aiib. abe says there is no need to rush a decision now. washington is taking a similar position. u.s. treasury secretary jack lew adds the new deloenvepmt bank to complement existing institutions and to adopt high governance standards. having said that he also indicated hope that washington can work with the aiib through the u.s./china strategic dialogue or the world bank, to develop asian infrastructure. japanese officials plan to closely share information with their u.s. counterparts, and watch china's moves before they finally come up with their own decisions. foreign minister fumio kishida also wants more details about the bank.
he says japan will urge china to ensure that it operates in a transparent way. kishida told a diet committee that tokyo will work with countries that join the lender. >> translator: we are exchanging information with countries such as britain and germany that are founding members of the bank. we will also work with those countries to keep pressure on china. >> kishida also stresses that japanese officials need to be sure that the bank conforms to standards of fair governance. chinese government officials say they will establish a system to ensure bank deposits. it's part of the country's policy to safeguard individual account holders as competition between banks heats up. the officials say each depositor will be insured for up to $ 500,000 yuan or about $80,000 if a bank goes under.
financial institutions in china will have to pay to fund the system. the officials say the deposits of almost all customers will be fully insured under the system. the new policy would go into effect in may. similar safety measures are in place in many other countries. chinese premier li keqiang said in march that the government will allow risks incurred by individual institutions to be resolved by market forces. the government has long protected the banking industry using public funds to bail out failing lenders. but the number of bad debts held by chinese banks is increasing as the economy slows. new car sales in japan fell in march by more than 11% from a year earlier. it was the third straight month that saw a double digit decline. auto industry officials say more than 695,000 units were sold last month. that's down 11.2% from the previous year. the lingering impact of last april's consumption tax hike is largely to blame. consumers went on an auto buying spree ahead of the tax increase
and demand since then has been weak. sales for the fiscal year that just ended in march marked the first year-on-year decline in four years, nearly 5.3 million units were sold down 6.9%. mini vehicles accounted for more than 40% of total sales, that's a record share. officials say the effects of a tax hike are lasting longer than expected, and will likely go on for awhile. they expect that buyers will continue to prefer smaller, low-priced cars. april is the time when most japanese businesses welcome the new fiscal year and fresh recruits. the president of the world's largest motor company has urged his team of recent graduates to work together to keep building better cars. toyota motor welcomed new employees at the company's headquarters. over 1500 attended. about 250 more than last year. >> translator: let's keep taking on new challenges to make
further improvements. we should set goals for 30 years, 40 years, even 100 years into the future. >> the new staff members will begin their training at factories and offices this week. they pledge to work hard. >> translator: i want to make appealing cars that are cute, as well as stylish. >> toyota expects to post a record operating profit of more than $22.5 billion for the business year that ended in march. company officials attribute that success to the robust u.s. auto market, and the weaker yen. and checking the markets, several pieces of economic data affected sentiment on stock exchanges around the world. investors were cheered by manufacturing data in the eurozone. the purchasing managers index for march was slightly better than many investors had expected. and major indexes are trading higher. the ftse in london up by almost
1%. the dax in frankfurt gaining by 1.06% and the cac 40 in paris gaining by 1.42%. tokyo's nikkei average fell 0.9% after the results of the tankan survey didn't match market expectations. shanghai rose 1.66% following the release of strong manufacturing pmi data in china. south korea's kospi fell 0.62% after weak export data for march. moving on to currencies, the dollar is moving in a narrow range against major peers. traders are waiting for economic data from the u.s. including the ism manufacturing, and private sector adb jobs data as a preview of u.s. nonfarm payroll numbers on friday. people in malaysia will now be paying more for many items. officials there have introduced a consumption tax. a 6% goods and services tax or gst was launched on wednesday. it's part of an effort to trim
the nation's fiscal deficit. officials expect it will raise around $6 billion in annual revenue. that's about 10% of the money the country took in last year from all sources. the government wants to shift reliance on income from petroleum related industries amid declines in crude oil prices. the industry had provided 30% of the nation's tax revenue. >> that sounds -- after these i think maybe once in a month. >> the gst will not be levied on food, health care expenses or tuition, but some are critical saying it will deal a blow to people living in poverty. concerns have also been raised that it could dampen consumption and drag down malaysia's economy. that's it for business news. i'll leave you with the markets.
government officials in tokyo say more japanese households than ever are relying on welfare to get by. and they say nearly half of the people who need help are elderly. welfare ministry officials say in january the number of households receiving assistance swelled to a record 1.6 million. they say the number of households with people aged 65 or older on welfare rose to 765,000 up by 1,000 from december. sick or injured people accounted
for 17% of those getting help. people who are able to work also made up 17%. and people with disabilities accounted for 12%. workers at more than 900 municipalities across the country are doing their part to reverse the trend. they've used a new law to launch services that help people find jobs before they turn to welfare. and they're providing money to homeless people to temporarily help them cover the cost of rent. japanese leaders plan to keep up the pressure on their counterparts in north korea. they'll push authorities in pyongyang to report quickly on investigation into the fates of missing japanese nationals. >> translator: the japanese government will keep reviewing its policies toward north korea, with the aim of finding the most effective measures for bringing all the abductees home. >> japan's government lifted some sanctions against north korea last year. they acted after authorities in pyongyang announced a new probe
into the fate of japanese citizens. they include japanese abducted by north korean agents. kishida's remark may indicate the government could reimpose the sanctions, including travel restrictions. japanese leaders have been frustrated by the north korean's failure to provide information on the investigation. the japanese government has adopted a policy officials call action for action. they've already taken punitive measures. some economic sanctions against the north were due to expire this month but the japanese government decided on tuesday to extend them by two years. a japanese woman who had been named the world's oldest person has died. misao okawa was 117. okawa had been living at a nursing home in osaka. staff members say she fell ill about ten days ago, and died wednesday of natural causes. okawa was born on march 5th, 1898 and she lived at a time before home telephones or air
travel. guinness world records had listed her as the oldest person on the planet. and it says she had three children, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. japan and south korea mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year. political relations have recently been strained but at the grassroots level, cultural exchanges go on. exchanges between japan and korea have a long history, beginning in 1607. korean kings sent a series of diplomatic missions to japan. they wanted to congratulate japan's new rulers and deliver formal letters from the king. the missions continued for 2 1/2 centuries. nhk world looks at how people in both countries are trying to preserve the mission's message of peace. >> reporter: this was once the main loyal palace. now it's the starting point for a walk from seoul to tokyo.
the walk is held every two years, and the latest one began wednesday. about 160 japanese and koreans are taking part. >> translator: i want to be friends with both participants from south korea and japan. all the way to tokyo. >> translator: i want to finish the walk to tokyo with my health intact. >> reporter: the leader talked about his hopes at the departure ceremony. >> translator: we all want to help each other to reach tokyo. on the 50th anniversary of normalized ties between japan and south korea. >> translator: we are heading for tokyo to continue the spirit of friendship of our ancestors. >> reporter: the journey of more than 50 days also includes a bus
ride, and a ferry trip. ♪ some wore costumes modeled on korean messengers who traveled to japan 400 years ago. more people are expected to join along the route. organizers say the number will likely swell to 2,000 participants, including some who walk for just a day. the first walk took place in 2007. >> translator: my condition so far is good. i don't know if that will change or not. but, i think i can make it to tokyo. >> reporter: civic groups from both countries plan to submit a joint application to unesco next year. they want to have the ancient korean missions added to the memory of the world register.
they say the missions should be recognized for the role they played in peaceful relations for over two centuries. by drawing on examples from the past japanese and south koreans are trying to inspire others to follow the path of peace together. nhk world. people in the philippines are bracing themselves as a typhoon approaches. here with the details is jonathan oh from our weather desk. >> hello. we have been tracking this typhoon for the past few days and now it is starting to weaken just a bit. it was a violent typhoon, as we went through the day tuesday, and into wednesday, peaking at its highest strength. but now it's starting to weaken. i want to point out a couple of characteristics here.
there's may sack. a pretty powerful storm. this is a wind shear debris that's taking place with the system. which means it is getting som resistance and starting to tear apart just a b which means we're going to get a little bit of help trying to weaken the storm as we go throughout the next few days. now i want to show you this imagery. this is when it was at its peak in sterms of the strength. maysock as a violent typhoon, clearly defined eye really hitting yap pretty hard as it moved toward the west. this system will continue to receive resistance as we go throughout the next few days. currently packing winds of 180, gusting 252 with pressure around 920 so it is now, as the pressure goes up the system will weaken and this system will continue to move to the west/northwest, and by the time we go in to friday and saturday i think the system will be weak enough to where it will be a strong typhoon. still a powerful storm but it will be much weaker than its peak that was experienced late tuesday into wednesday. but the philippines, luzon
especially, needs to be prepared for the system. lots of rainfall and some strong winds still very much possible as we go into the easter holiday weekend. so we'll keep you posted on that. meanwhile broader perspective, asia, the low pressure system with the stationary front is bringing plenty of cloud cover, some sprinkles from time to time. we will see a high pressure system trying to move in to try to change that up just a little bit. a couple of low pressure systems bringing some showers into beijing and also into chongqing. temperatures from 14 in beijing, 19, seoul, 18 in tokyo, 30 degrees in chongqing. quite warm as we go into thursday. now as we take a look at the forecast for europe i want to point out that we have been having some very strong storms rolling through the area. and it's causing some serious problems in the central portions of the continent. let me show you some video to give you an idea of what it looks like on the ground level. a powerful storm blowing through central europe tuesday leaving one person dead and causing widespread damage. the storm knocking down power lines, toppling trees, and also knocking over a cement wall onto
a home which resulted in the death in germany. dozens of flights being canceled out of frankfurt due to the strong crosswinds at the airport. rail services also being suspended throughout the country. an as we continue on throughout the next 24 hours, may even see a big drop in the temperatures that may lead to seeing a little bit of some flurry activity as we go throughout the next day or so. in the mean time still looking at the severe weather possibilities with isolated tornadoes, some severe wind gusts possible and of course some thunderstorms. extending through central europe and also into the eastern side of the continent. so have the umbrella handy and keep aware of the weather situation, because as we go through wednesday, we'll be looking at the possibility of some strong thunderstorms. we also have that possibility in north america, as we are watching a low pressure system dropping in from the north. this complex will start to develop a bit more. so the central plains do have a slight risk of severe thunderstorms as we go throughout wednesday. that marginal possibility also extends down in to the deep south. so again, look out for this